DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Kyle Busch suffered a compound fracture in his right leg, as well as a fractured left foot after a vicious late-race wreck at the Alert Today Florida 300 at Daytona International Speedway. He is out indefinitely.
Matt Crafton will replace him in Sunday's Daytona 500. Joe Gibbs Racing said an interim driver beyond Daytona has not been determined.
The accident, met with criticism from a number of drivers because it occured at a place on the track which did not have SAFER barriers, prompted an almost immediate response from track president Joie Chitwood, who pledged to wrap the track in the afforementioned soft walls immediately following Sunday's race.
"SAFER barriers should have been there tonight," Chitwood said. "We can't allow this again."
On Lap 113 of the Xfinity Series race, Busch spun while pushing Erik Jones coming through the front-stretch tri-oval. Busch's car rocketed straight toward a section of wall that did not have SAFER barriers in place. Busch immediately attempted to exit the car, but as safety crews covered the car in fire extinguisher foam, Busch apparently got hung up getting his right leg out of the car.
Emergency crews attended to Busch, wrapping his right leg and ankle in a splint. He left the scene in an ambulance, and was transported to a nearby hospital. Approximately 90 minutes later, Joe Gibbs Racing announced Busch would not be racing in Sunday's Daytona 500, but did not name a replacement driver and did not indicate how long Busch would be out.
The wreck occurred just 90 minutes before Kyle's brother Kurt was scheduled to appeal his indefinite suspension from NASCAR. As Kurt Busch's appeal was denied, this will mark the first Daytona 500 since 2000 without a Busch brother.
[UPDATE: On Sunday morning, Joe Gibbs offered an update, saying that Kyle was in good spirits as he went into surgery. As of Sunday, Busch was still in Daytona waiting to fly home. Matt Crafton will be Busch's replacement during the Daytona 500, and the team will re-evaluate options for drivers early next week.]
Drivers immediately took to Twitter to express support for Kyle and frustration with the fact that SAFER barriers, which collapse and reduce force on impact, are not present all around every track:
I'm genuinely furious right now. Any wall in any of the top 3 series without safer barriers is INEXCUSABLE. It's 2015.
— Regan Smith (@ReganSmith) February 21, 2015
Terrible crash for @KyleBusch I wish him well. I will be praying.
— Mark Martin (@markmartin) February 21, 2015
— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) February 21, 2015
Hope @KyleBusch is ok. That was a huge, terrible hit. Don’t like seeing that anytime to anyone.
— Joey Logano (@joeylogano) February 21, 2015
All we do is wreck at Daytona and that massive wall has no safer barrier? Unbelievable! Hope Kyle is ok...
— Kasey Kahne (@kaseykahne) February 21, 2015
In a Saturday evening press conference, Chitwood announced that Daytona would be setting up tire barriers on Saturday night to cover all non-SAFER-covered sections of track, and that DIS would be installing SAFER barriers on every inch of exposed wall.
NASCAR SVP Steve O'Donnell noted that the sanctioning body would be in touch with tracks, seeking to expedite the implementation of all available safety measures. "We will accelerate those [SAFER barrier] talks with the tracks," O'Donnell said. "We want this sport to be as safe as possible."
And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.